I know it’s been said 1,000 times, but Hurricane Katrina is why I am here. I was not planning on staying in New Orleans. The plan was to go to Tulane for a couple of years, get my MBA, then move on to a city that offered more options. But, the first day of grad school was the day Katrina hit. After watching the devastation, I made the decision to stay and help rebuild the city.
Jamal Brown, the New Orleans Director for Community Outreach for the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), grew up on the Westbank (Terrytown) and attended Brother Martin before continuing his education at Loyola University for undergrad as a marketing and Management major, and Tulane University where he received his MBA in Marketing.
“I spent 3 years working with Sears in its Management Trainee program. I have spent the past 7 years working at Liberty Bank in its Community Development division. While I was working at Liberty I did a lot of volunteer work in the education field. I currently sit on the board of Teaching Responsible Earth Education, a non-profit organization that takes 4th, 5th, and 7th graders out of the classroom and brings them to Jean Lafitte National Park or the Northshore to learn 1/3 of the science curriculum over a 3 to 5 day period. I am the Treasurer of the 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans and have participated in Junior Achievement and several career days.”
What is the mission and purpose of BAEO? The mission of the Black Alliance for Educational Options is to increase access to high quality education options for Black children by actively supporting transformational education reform initiatives and parental choice policies that empower low-income and working-class Black families.
How does this all play a role in the city of NOLA? How might it affect education in our community?New Orleans is currently going through an education reform movement unlike anywhere else in the country. Our public education system is dominated by charter schools and there are programs that allow children in failing schools to attend private schools. BAEO is here to insure that low income and working class families have access to as many high quality educational options as possible. These are the people that under the traditional school system get left behind. They have to go to the neighborhood school, which generally lacks adequate funding and is failing our students. Which means you have a student that is in the 9th grade, but he/she is reading on a 5th grade level. The odds of this student being prepared for life after high school, be it college or career, are slim to none. BAEO’s mission is to make sure that this scenario does not happen.
What are your concerns with education and education based institutions in our area? Education is the key to success. Every child in New Orleans does not have access to a high quality education. That is concerning to me. I am also concerned with the fact that many people feel that they have been left out of this reform movement. This has lead to a lot of misinformation and caused a lot of tension that is not healthy. The only way that this will work is if everyone is working to make it successful.
What are BAEOs’ goals for the rest of 2015? Our goals for the rest of 2015 are to help protect the scholarship program and charter legislation. We are also focused on building better and stronger coalitions to ensure that more people are involved in this reform movement. We also want to make sure that correct information is disseminated to the community, so people can make informed decisions.
What upcoming events or concepts should we be looking out for where the organization is concerned? During the legislative session the Louisiana Scholarship Program will come up for re-authorization. There will also be a Common Core debate. BAEO will be advocating on the behalf of both of these issues.
How can people find out more or become involved?
Www.baeo.org or text BAEO to 52886 to get on our mailing list.